Jonathan Shaw in Harvard Magazine:
EVERY YEAR, 40,000 PEOPLE in the United States are killed with firearms. But another 85,000 are shot and survive. A new study quantifying the impacts of gun violence on these survivors and their families finds that they face increased risk of mental health disorders and substantially higher healthcare spending. Spending on gunshot survivors alone in the first year after their injury is estimated at about $2.5 billion—most of that cost burden carried by employers, insurers, and publicly-funded health programs.
In addition to obvious physical injury, the study found that “there are substantial mental health repercussions for both the survivors and their family members through a year following a shooting,” says lead author and associate professor of health care policy Zirui Song, who is a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital. And there is an increased risk for substance abuse among survivors, who are often coping with pain. “Understanding how firearm injuries reverberate across peoples’ lives and families provides insights that we can use to provide better care for patients”—for example, by screening survivors and their family members for signs of mental health problems or substance use disorders.